Many people fill up their New Year’s resolutions list with the same resolutions every year. While some of those may be self-focused, others make the resolution to help others more through volunteerism. This goes out to those reading who believe in the LGBT movement’s cause but perhaps haven’t yet taken any steps toward being a strong ally.

It’s easy to say you support a cause. What’s harder is actually supporting that cause. It can be overwhelming to try and take those first few baby steps, but it’s something all true allies to a cause must do. Otherwise, you’re just a bystander.

First, do some thinking. Sit down and consider all the people in your life—friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, acquaintances. It’s likely that someone in your life is LGBT. Think about what these people add to your life and consider the challenges they are faced with in a world where they are often denied basic rights.

Seek out these people and ask them about their lives. Listen to their stories and consider the similarities with your life as well as the differences. Get to know them as people—their likes, dislikes, passions, hopes, and dreams. If they are comfortable with it, also ask them about their experience as an LGBT person—the good and the bad.

If you don’t know of anyone in your life who is LGBT, take advantage of the enormous resources available via books, articles, essays, blogs, and more. Read up on current LGBT events and read real stories written by and about LGBT people.

Lastly, get involved with a local or national LGBT organization. The Human Rights Campaign is the nation’s largest LGBT advocacy organization and a reliable source to place donations. If you want to see the effect of your support more directly, research local LGBT organizations like GSA chapters and volunteer to help with fundraising or events. Not only will your efforts directly help those in your community, but you’ll also gain invaluable life experiences and like-minded allies in the process.

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